The Age (36)

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Reporter: Then what is the real story?

Kelly: I will tell you. I declared to you that I felt more keenly than I can express the unjust treatment meted out to my mother, who was arrested with a baby at her breast and convicted of a crime of which she was innocent.

Reporter: Tell me the whole story of that affair.

Kelly : I will. My Mother, her son in law Skillian, and a nam named William Williamson, were, on the 12th October 1878 at the Beechworth assizes, by Sir Redmond Barry, sentenced, my mother to three years, Skillian and Williamson to six years each. Williamson is not related to us; he occupied land at Greta. The only witness of the alleged attempt at murder was Constable Fitzpatrick, who has since been dismissed from the police force. His evidence, I declare, is foully false. On the 12th of October my mother, brother in law and Williamson were sentenced, and the police started to arrest my brother Dan and me on the 25th October, or thirteen days after my mother was sentenced. Now the following is a true version of the affair. I think a warrant had been issued at Chiltern for Dan’s arrest on a charge of horse stealing, of which he was quite innocent. Before this warrant could reach Fitzpatrick, he somehow became aware of it and started out to Greta to arrest Dan. He went drinking at some place in the neighbourhood while he was watching for Dan to come home. He saw Dan outside the house and said to him, ‘Dan, I want you to come into town with me,’ ‘Now,’ says Dan, ‘I don’t care to come into town; I have no business with you.’ ‘Oh,’ said Fitzpatrick, ‘there is a warrant against you for horse stealing.’ ‘Very well,’ said Dan; ‘if that is the case I will go with you, but I have just come in from a long ride, so let me have something to eat before I go.’

There upon the two went into my mother’s place. Dan did not like to tell my mother and Fitzpatrick was silent, but after a little time said he was going into town with Fitzpatrick and my mother wanting to know what for, Fitzpatrick said ‘There is a warrant out against him, and I have arrested.” ‘Well,’ said Dan, ‘you have said so much about a warrant. Show us your warrant.” Fitzpatrick said, ‘I have no warrant, but a telegram came saying there was a warrant out for you. “Well,” says my mother, who was putting some fire on the oven in which she was baking bread, ‘I do not see why any man should be taken on the mere word of a policeman, and Dan you need not go unless you like. Fitzpatrick at once drew his revolver and covered my mother with it, saying ‘I will blow your brains out if you interfere.’ My mother said to Fitzpatrick, ‘You would not be so ready to show that popgun of yours, if Ned was here.’ Instantly, Dan, with the view of distracting Fitzpatrick’s attention, cried out, ‘There is Ned coming along by the side of the house.’ Fitzpatrick at once fell into the ruse looked in the direction indicated by Dan, but I was not in fact within 200 miles of the place at the time. Directly Dan saw Fitzpatrick’s attention was taken off him, he rushed Fitzpatrick disarmed him, emptied his revolver gave it him back and let him go, not offering him any violence whatever.

A day or two afterwards my mother, Skillian, and Williamson, both of whom were not present on that occasion, were arrested on a charge of aiding and abetting an attempt by me to murder Fitzpatrick, and were confined six months before they were tried in May of 1878. A reward of ₤100 was offered for my apprehension for this alleged attempt at murder. At the trial Fitzpatrick swore I shot him in the wrist, and he was afterwards compelled to submit to cutting out of the bullet. I now know the position in which I stand, and now declare to God Fitzpatrick’s statement is false from beginning to ends. My version may be doubted but there are one or two facts that help me. Fitzpatrick has been since dismissed from the force. Dr Nicholson gave evidence that Fitzpatrick’s wound might have been caused as stated by him, but that he had not probed the wound; however, since the trial the doctor has told Fitzpatrick that his wound was never caused by a bullet. I believe Fitzpatrick, in order to give a color to his story, and to relieve himself for his failure to arrest Dan, inflicted a mere flesh wound on his wrist, but whether or not it was so I declare that his statement affecting me was wilfully and deliberately false, for I was not within hundreds of miles of that place at that time, and I never at any date shot Fitzpatrick. From the time my mother was arrested, up to her sentence, Dan and myself kept out of the way, and were earning our living quietly by digging. As soon as my mother’s conviction had been obtained in that way, the police evidently made a determined effort to earn the reward. That, I believe, had then been increased to ₤200. They may have intended to apprehend us, but I firmly believe they only wanted the slightest pretext to shoot my brother and myself.

Reporter: I have received a letter from a lady in Melbourne who requests me to put this question to you – Did you ever come to her home and ask to see her husband? Because the lady writing the letter says she felt convinced, from the likeness she saw in the Sketcher, that a man identical in appearance with the likeness named called at her house some time ago and asked for her husband. At the time he called she says she and her daughter were both under the impression it was Ned Kelly.

Kelly seemed greatly amused and said he had never called there, and expressed a desire to see the Sketcher . Upon this Mr Gaunson asked if he was not allowed to see the papers, and he said he knew nothing of what was going on except what he might be told. Mr Gaunson said he would show him the Sketcher, and on his visit this evening he took him up the Sketcher to look at. Last night Mr Gaunson read to him The Age report in yesterday’s issue, on which he made careful and intelligent comments, as the reading proceeded, pointing out whatever passages he regarded as necessary for him to make remarks upon. He was evidently much gratified by the sight of a newspaper. He intently studied the picture which has appeared in the Sketcher, and said, ‘It is a mere fancy sketch of a bushman, and in no way like me.’


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